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Scaling new heights of fitness!

Tags: exercise , fitness

Scaling new heights of fitnessRock climbing requires more than having a good head for heights: it's an adventurous and challenging sport that gives you a full body workout. Personal trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read explores the fitness benefits.

Rock climbing is a testing but fun activity that will give you a full body workout and help build your overall endurance, core strength and balance. It's a challenging sport that demands much more than a head for heights.

So if the gym is not your thing and a more adventurous workout appeals, then rock climbing could be the perfect choice!

Rock climbing gets you working muscles that often get neglected in other workouts, as it involves techniques such as scrambling, which targets your muscles and joints in lots of different ranges.

Other key fitness benefits are that you will be increasing your upper body strength and overall endurance, as well as working on balance and agility.

After a climbing session, you'll really feel the muscles in your inner thighs and throughout your arms. Perhaps more surprisingly, another muscle that you'll find you've been working hard is your abdominals: these muscles get recruited naturally in rock climbing, as we need them for our core strength and balance.

Getting started...

If you're keen to take up the sport, first find a reputable climbing school that has qualified instructors and provides all the equipment you need.

The British Mountaineering Council provides advice on issues such as equipment and safety, as well as information about climbing walls in your area and competitions for different age groups and levels of experience. There are equivalent bodies for rock climbers in Scotland and Ireland (see below).

It's advisable to build up your fitness in preparation for taking up the sport. Begin with some form of aerobic training that gives you a full body workout, such as swimming, running or power walking, and aim for three sessions a week.

Next, work on building strength in your upper, middle and lower body with a circuit that includes squats for your lower body, press-ups for upper body, and basic abdominal curls for your middle core strength.

This workout will help you climb any mountain - and get you fighting fit at the same time!

Useful websites
To find a local rock climbing centre and for general information and advice on the sport, visit the relevant website for your area.

England and Wales
The British Mountaineering Council
http://www.thebmc.co.uk/

Scotland
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland
http://www.mcofs.org.uk/

Ireland
Mountaineering Ireland
http://www.mountaineering.ie/

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